The Hindu Presence in World Culture
European travelers to the Indian subcontinent and colonial scholars did everything to encourage the idea that India was a stagnant country and its people largely immobile, but this view betrayed Europe’s own parochialism and the inability of Europeans to confront some of the exceedingly cosmopolitan cultures of the Indic world. Buddhists and later Hindu kings were carriers of Indic culture to Southeast Asia in the second half of the first millennium, and though Bali is generally characterized as the Hindu “paradise” or “getaway” in Muslim Indonesia, the Prambanan plains of central Java are a striking testimony of the infiltration of Hindu culture into all of Southeast Asia. Down to the present day, the Javanese are steeped in the culture of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
India also developed extensive links with central Asia, Aden and the Gulf, and the east coast of Africa, and one effect of the European presence in India was the excision of the memory of these forms of interculturality. Gujaratis, Hakkas, Cantonese, Malayalis, Arabs, Bataks, Acehnese, Malays, Minangs, and Parsis mingled together. Before European hegemony commenced in the modern period, the Indian ocean trading world provided the conditions for a multiculturalism that the Western world, which did everything to eliminate diversity and plurality, now claims as its signal contribution to world history. There is evidence of Indian settlements in east Africa extending back to the 12th century.
Source: Diaspora Purana –The Indic Presence in World Culture by Vinay Lal